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It’s That Time of Year Again

Attention

Line Up – Remember when?

Preparing for Mass

Preparing for Mass

Heading home

New Back Packs for everyone

New coat of paint at the parish school

New coat of paint at the parish school

New benches

New benches

It’s that time of year again, not only here in the U.S. but in Haiti as well. Summer is unofficially over and school is in session. September 7 marked the first day of school at LaBeque, a chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary.

This past week, September 14 marked the first day of school at the parish school, Our Lady of the Rosary, at Sapaterre.

Father Nova and I generally keep in touch on Sunday mornings and when I e-mailed him he was on his way to LaBeque to pray the Mass with the children for the start of their new school year. The pictures above are of the children of LaBeque in formation, getting ready for Mass in the church and wearing their new school backpacks. This year each of the children received a backpack, donated from another charitable organization. The children were very happy to have them and Father Nova was very happy for them, as are we. All total between LaBeque and Our Lady of the Rosary schools, 500 backpacks were given to the students.

Father was also able to arrange for a fresh coat of paint on the outside of the parish school, you might remember back in February this year myself along with Mike and Doug made a trip to Our Lady of the Rosary and along with several locals painted the inside of the class room, and with our help Father was able to replace 20 school benches with brand new ones.

While we are very happy for the start of school and the gifts given, it is not that time of year for the chapel at Chereval. We are a little saddened that we are still unable to start even a small school at Chereval. If you remember from previous blogs, when I visited them in February this year their only request was a school for their children. They know the way out of poverty is through education. They didn’t ask for money, they didn’t ask for clothing, not even food. All they wanted and still want is a place for their children to begin getting an education – a hand up, not a hand out.

Between the chapels of  Chereval and Cour Cadichon, there are probably another 300 plus children in need of an education. Wouldn’t it be nice next year to say It’s That Time of Year for Our Lady of the Rosary and all 3 of the chapels assigned to Father Nova?

With God’s Grace and your support all things are possible.

God Bless

Art

St. Mary Magdalene

IMG-20150719-WA0000 IMG-20150719-WA0001 IMG-20150719-WA0002 IMG-20150719-WA0003 IMG-20150719-WA0004July 22 is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene in the church calendar and is/was celebrated at the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary known as Cour Cadicon on July 22. However, because Cour Cadicon is a chapel and difficult to get to on a regular basis by Fr. Nova, it was celebrated this past Sunday. St. Mary Magdalene was the first to discover the empty tomb and experience the Risen Christ.

Feast day celebrations are always, in Haiti, a festive event and combined with the festivities of St. Mary Magdalene, Fr. Nova had the privilege of celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism for 40 people, young and old and later in the day, celebrating the First Holy Communion of 30 people. I am always amazed at the approach to the Sacraments in Haiti. Despite the poverty everyone from participants in the Sacraments to family members go all out to present themselves to the Lord in their best attire, as evidenced by the photos. Lest you think they have the ability to afford such amenities, let me tell you most of the dresses and outfits for the boys are rented or borrowed. The parents clothing are probably the same the wear to Mass every Sunday. You see, in Haiti, the have one “special” set of clothing set aside and only used for Sunday Mass or very special occasions. They most certainly don’t have a closet full of clothes to choose from, as a matter of fact they don’t have closets in the modest homes.

I would like you to pay special attention to the church. It is only partially built, basically a stick frame, a roof, fortunately with a metal covering, and side slats, basically enough to provide some protection from the elements and you can’t see them but sawed tree trunks for seats. To decrease the exposure to the elements for this special event, tarps were erected. Remember, in Haiti this time of year the temps are in the 90s with 75+ humidity. I can attest to the fact that I would much rather deal with AZ heat and low humidity.

I know I end almost every blog with a plea for donations but when I see these conditions and think of the blessings we have. I can’t help it. Take a few minutes to contemplate your church, think about the beauty and comfort we are surrounded in and then think about how we take this for granted and maybe are lack luster in our faith. Then take a second look at the photos and think about the love of faith, despite their poverty and simplicity of their worship space the people of Haiti have.

Don’t you think they deserve the same as us? Don’t you think we have the ability, each of us to provide the support they need to make their life at least a little closer to the life we are blessed with?

Jesus tells us, the poor will be with us always. There is a reason for this and that reason is because we are called by Him to share our blessings with others. The poor are there for our benefit and salvation.

If you agree on this Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene, send a contribution. There is so much to do and so little dollars – please – help.

Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti

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Dominican Republic makes decision to deport Haitians

 

The government of the Dominican Republic which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti has decided to deport all Haitians and evidently other nationalities as well who are without the proper documents. Deportation may officially start as early as tomorrow July 7. Haitians have been serving in this nation for years as migrant workers, working in the sugar cane fields and performing jobs residents of the Dominican Republic have long since refused to do. Many of the Haitians have been living in the DR for years, bearing children, and grandchildren. These generations of children will literally be without a country, born in a country that does not recognize them and with no ties to Haiti.

The official deportation of these people may have not officially begun but there are already thousands who have made the trek back to Haiti only to find they have no home, food, or water and certainly no income. Many more families are living on the border in slum conditions not knowing what to do.

So the question might be how does this affect us and how does it affect Action By Christians for Haiti?

I received correspondence for Fr. Nova of Our Lady of the Rosary and he has informed me that parents are arriving at his parish doorstep in need of assistance in the way of food, shelter, and clothing. Apparently many of the children are staying behind on the border where they at least have something to eat and minimal shelter. The parents are begging for assistance. Father Nova tells me Caritas is helping slowly and Food for the Poor will also. I do need to tell you that Father Nova already receives some help from Caritas but it is not entirely free. The added burden will come at an additional price.

Since the earthquake of 2010 he has seen an influx of people who have settled in the area, putting a strain on his already meager resources. There is no telling how many of these displaced persons will settle in his parish.

So what am I asking of you today? 1. To stay informed, these situations never go smoothly or without violence. 2. Pray for these poor people – life is hard enough as it is and now it will only get worse, and not just for those being deported. The people who already live in Sapaterre and struggle daily will now have the added burden of sharing their meager subsistence with others as they begin to arrive. 3. Begin to consider how you can be of help. 4.  Crowded conditions in the area and improper sanitation could cause an outbreak in infection disease such as Cholera, which we have so far been able to keep at bay at Our Lady of the Rosary, not to mention the possibility of malnutrition among the children and elderly.  Our organization will be meeting next week and one of the topics will be this issue and what if anything we are able to do.

Please click on the links below and become informed. Also follow us on facebook where I will try to keep everyone informed and provide the latest news.

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/haitians-forced-from-dominican-republic-recall-racism-and-abuse/

http://www.liberationnews.org/haiti-far-ready-receive-deported-dominican-republic/

As always we give thanks and praise to God for your generosity.

 

Art Brouillard

President, ABC for Haiti

 

If you would like to comment please contact us at info@abcforhaiti.org

EXPERIENCE

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In February this past year, two friends of mine, Mike from Minnesota (on the left) and Doug from Rhode Island (on the right)visited Haiti with me for the experience of a life time.  We had a project to do but that was just a means to the end.  To experience the situation in Port-au-Prince as we travelled out of town was eye opening.  Living the experience for a week among the poor of the Central Plateau at Our Lady of the Rosary was inspiring for them to say the least.  I hope I have adequately captured their reactions and experience.

Michael is a very detail oriented person and needs to know what, when, where, and how at all times no matter the situation and yet somewhere in all this “need to know” is a big heart of compassion.  From the minute we got off the plane in Port-Au-Prince Mike had one question after the other about life in Haiti and at times found it very hard to understand how it could be like this.  For example, where do the people work, make money to buy things and food?  It was difficult for him to understand the people we serve in the central plateau have very little resources.  There is no industry and they basically take each day at a time, selling food on the street, maybe selling a few vegetables or herbs they grew in their yard, maybe selling a chicken or two.  Maybe a little carpentry or brick work if it is available.  Whatever comes their way!  Now as soon as we went out to meet the people of the parish, Michael began to understand and his big heart began to show.  He was warm, and kind, and loving to everyone and loved the children and having his photo taken with them.  He wanted to give everything he had with him, unfortunately unless you have enough for everyone you can’t do this.  Michael had to do something and he did.  One morning we were sitting under the tree by the road and recess began at the school.  There is a man who sells sugar cane to the children who have a few pennies.  Michael made sure every child got sugar cane that day.

Doug is an easy going kind of happy guy and more or less takes things in stride.  Doug was in need of a spiritual boost and he sure came to the right place.  It’s hard not to get a spiritual boost when you see the poverty, yet experience the warm welcomes, the smiles, the joy, the faith that God will somehow provide, these people have despite their situation.  Here when they pray “give us this day our daily bread”, they depend and believe it will happen. Doug’s biggest connection was with the children. Doug has always been good with children, a stern and loving father always wanting his children to make a good life and now a devoted grandfather. The photo above I think says it all.  If there is one theme with Doug and his experience it is Education.  He recognizes Fr. Nova’s commitment to education of his parish, his aides, and those he teaches at a variety of schools in the Diocese.

Think about it – Jesus spent His life teaching the people of His time and continues to teach us in His Holy Gospel.

If you were to ask either of these men I’m sure there would be no hesitation in encouraging you to make a visit to Haiti or some other place to experience the good that is being done for others.  You cannot come back home without a change in attitude and without making new friends with each other and those your serve.

It was a blessing for me to have them with me and I hope there will be many more who will want to learn by experience.

Art

GRADUATION 2015

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Graduation is many things to many people and this graduating class of 2015 is no different.  We are so pleased and excited to announce the first graduating class of the Trade School at Our Lady of the Rosary.

For one entire year these graduates spent their afternoons learning the fundamentals of sewing both in theory and in practice.  Sunday, April 12, Divine Mercy Sunday, 8 women and 2 men graduated.  I had the privilege of not only receiving a hand made shirt from the class but also to see the fruits of their labor – they did a great job!

Congratulations – We are so proud of you!

How appropriate they should hold their graduation on Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is this devotion that we have in common.   We pray for each other through this devotion; it is our spiritual connection.

Arriving at this day was not without its struggles.  Originally the class started with about 50 women and men with one teacher for each group.  As time went on some had to drop out for various reasons, the biggest one; finances.  The fee required to attend the class, which were to be used to pay the teachers, was too much for many and those who did stay couldn’t afford all of the funds and Father Nova made it his responsibility to take care of the teacher salaries out of his pocket.  This is not to put a negative spin on the day, it’s just a fact of life in Haiti.

As an organization we are looking at what we can do to support this program for the future and still have at least a small fee which we believe draws ownership and pride in what you are doing and what you accomplish in the end.  So, while we will continue to support this program we will try our best depending on our finances to make it affordable to as many as possible.

Enough talk! Enjoy the photos of the graduates and their work on the photo page.

May God continue to Bless you abundantly!

Art

A Blessed Easter to All

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ABC for Haiti wishes a Blessed Easter to all as we begin the Triduum on this Holy Thursday.  As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper this evening, His passion and death on Good Friday and contemplate His time in the grave on Holy Saturday and His joyous and glorious Resurrection on Easter, I ask you to keep us in prayer and to keep our parish family in Haiti in prayer too. 

You will be in our prayers as we travel this personal and public journey increasing our understanding of our faith and our beliefs; remembering the great sacrifice Our Lord made for our salvation and remembering our obligation to be brothers and sisters of Christ, patterning our lives as close as possible to His.  Remembering also we have a responsibility to one another as brothers and sisters. 

Our parish family in Haiti will be praying for us as we pray for them.  This is the one thing we can do for each other.  We shoulder the greater burden to help our brothers and sisters in need and your generosity, care, and love for the poor not only in Haiti but throughout the world is recognized not only by us but by Our Father in Heaven.

As we wish you A Blessed Easter our prayer for you:   

May our Risen Lord Bless You, physically, emotionally, and spiritually each according to your need.

Team ABC for Haiti

He is Risen!

Allelluia!!

Painting

Michael Painting Windor

Michael Painting Window

Obert & Junior hard at work

Obert & Junior hard at work

Paint crew minus Celestin

Paint crew minus Celestin

 

Fr. Nova joins in

Fr. Nova joins in

Art, Doug and Celestin

Art, Doug and Celestin

 

Two Celtics fans!

Two Celtics fans!

 

One of the main purposes behind this past trip was to paint the classrooms at the parish school.  Nine rooms in all plus the principal’s office.  Of course there was a little more to it than painting.  The goal was to have several people from the U.S join us for several reasons, one to help with the painting, two to meet the people of Our Lady of the Rosary, and three to get an idea of the poverty and the work we are trying to do there.

Joining me on this trip was my Cursillo group brother Michael who spends his time between Arizona and his original home state of Minnesota and a good friend of mine for close to 40 years, Doug who lives in Rhode Island, my original home state.  Judging by their reactions, comments and multitude of questions I would say it was a very successful trip.  We had the pleasure of working with 5 very hard working young men, Jean, Pierre, Junior, Celestin and Alexis to paint the classrooms.  Fr. Nova even joined us for a few minutes.  I do have to admit the young men took over.  I had a nice, neat plan laid out in my head and if you know the Bible saying, God’s ways are not man’s ways.  Well my way wasn’t the Haitian way and it didn’t take long to figure that out.  The job got done, we had fun, and we made 5 new friends.

We spent late Saturday afternoon visiting families directly across the road from the parish.  It was an eye opener for Doug and Mike to see their small homes, the conditions they live under and the hardness of their daily life just to find food and water.  In spite of all this they are a happy, welcoming people and they were very glad to see me again and that I had brought friends.  We were welcomed at every home.

In the photo above Doug had his picture taken with this young lady to show off her Celtic’s cap.  She was suffering from what appeared to be an ear infection.  We asked her to go to the clinic which she said she did and they wouldn’t do anything because she had no money to pay.  That same day we went to Hinche and purchased some decongestant nasal spray and ibuprofen and gave them to her.  Michel Jean our translator saw her a few days later and reported she was doing much better.

Before I close I just want to add this was a pay your way working trip.  While the project was to paint, it was also designed to raise funds to cover the costs of the project.  Each of us paid our own airfare to Haiti and donated a fixed amount to pay for the paint and supplies needed plus wages for the 5 men that helped us.

Before you leave our site, don’t forget to check out added photos of the painting in progress and the school children:  click here  http://abcforhaiti.org/back-home-2015/

As always, the best fund raiser is word of mouth and I encourage each of you to forward this link to your family and friends and let them know why this is important to you.  And, if you just happen to need a Lenten sacrifice to add to your Easter preparations, we sure wouldn’t complain if you decided to make an additional one time donation. 

Remember 95% of your donation goes directly to support the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Click here to donate:  http://abcforhaiti.org/donate/

Back Home !

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Back home in Haiti! I say back home because this is my 5th trip to Sapaterre and each time I visit it becomes more like home away from home.

We, myself, Doug and Mike arrived in Port Au Prince on Feb 21 on schedule, located Fr. Nova, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Sapaterre and our translator, guide, and good friend Michel Jean.  Michel is from Jacmel to the south and makes his living as a tour guide. We loaded our bags in the back of the truck and headed to Sapaterre.  One of the new things upon arrival at the airport was the institution of a new “Tourist Tax” of $10 US.  The drive took about 2 ½ hours.  The parish is located about 5 KM south of the major town of Hinche which also happens to be the Diocesan center for the Catholic Church in that area of the country known as the Central Plateau.  Just to give a little background Our Lady of the Rosary is the poorest of the parishes in this Diocese.

Upon our arrival lunch was ready.  As we walked into the pastor’s rectory we were greeted with decorations and signs welcoming us to the parish. After a hearty meal of beans and rice, chicken, fried bananas, and potato, carrot, and beet salad we retired to one of the large mango trees to relax from our long journey.  Fr. Nova informed us he had to go out on business and would join up with us in time for the evening meal. 

After a little relaxation and a nice cold Prestige (the local international award winning Haitian beer), I decided to take Doug and Mike to meet my Haitian friends across the street from the parish.  Immediately as we walked along the path people began to recognize me and we were instantly welcomed to their homes where we introduced Doug and Mike.  I am always happy to see them and always made to feel at home.  Even though I haven’t learned the language yet, the smiles and hearty handshakes from everyone say it all!  Michel of course was with us and we were able to converse through him.

After a couple hours of visiting we headed back to the rectory to wind down from the long day under the mango tree, enjoyed a light evening meal with father and were informed we would be attending Mass at St. Peter’s parish – it was their feast day, The Chair of St. Peter, which is always a treat.  I was happy Doug and Mike would have an opportunity to experience a Patron Feast Day, Haitian style. 

To see more photos of our welcome, visit our photo page.

Art

 

Living the Gospel

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Living the Gospel – a modern day story of those who do!

 Sunday I received a phone message that a dear friend who distributes communion to her community at one of the local senior citizens homes had some money that her group of 11 communicants had collected to donate to Haiti.  I returned her call on Monday with the intention of making her one of several stops that evening on the way home.  We ended up making a dinner engagement.  So, after an hour and a half meeting with someone else who would like to help us, I arrived around 6 to pick her up for dinner.  She handed me a package and said it was from her communicants.  I took it, thanked her and tucked it under the sun visor in my truck and we went to dinner.

                We had a nice dinner and chat at one of the local Asian diners.  It’s been a while since we had spent some time together.  To make this long story short we finished about 7:30, I dropped her off at home and headed back to my place pretty much exhausted after a day that started at 3:30 AM.

                When I finally did get home, I opened the manila envelope, expecting to find maybe $20-$30.  Remember now these are retired seniors living in a senior center.  There were three envelopes inside, two for $50 each and one for $140 for a total of $240, all cash.  I was blown away!

                You can’t imagine how many people I have talked to about our organization who have good incomes and are not shy about telling you how they spent it on themselves, and then when asked if they would be willing to share a minimum of $20 per month to help children, families, and a parish in need in Haiti, I get “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t afford it”.  Yet, senior citizens and I’m talking about senior, senior citizens can come up with $240!  Guess what?  That’s $20 per person.  I can’t help but think of the Gospel story about the Pharisee and the poor woman putting their offering into the plate.  The Pharisee with great pomp and circumstance gives of his abundance with no harm to his lifestyle and the poor woman gives the few pennies she has, giving of her sustenance. 

                This, my dear friends is a real time example of living the Gospel.  Next time someone asks for your help and you want to say “I can’t afford it” Think! – can you not afford it or is it just an excuse?

 If you would like to donate monthly click here http://abcforhaiti.org/monthly-support/ and make your monthly donation.

 If you would like to make a one-time donation click here http://abcforhaiti.org/ and click on any of the red donate buttons and make your one time donation.

God Bless

Art

A New Year begins and an Old Year is out

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A New Year begins and an Old Year is out!

As a New Year begins and an Old Year is out, we would like to take just a moment to once again thank all of you who provided financial and prayerful support for another successful year.  We still have a long way to go and we hope and pray 2015 will be a year of growth; with your help and with the help of new friends.

Just a quick rundown of the success we had last year.

            Not only were we able to continue with providing Fr. Nova with his monthly stipend to support the parish, we were able to increase his stipend to assist him in bringing his grossly underpaid teaching staff to a respectable level and then again later in the year we were able to again increase his stipend to bring his teaching staff up to the local monthly standard salary and to provide that salary all year long.

            We added 14 children to the tuition program, bringing the total up to 40.

            The trade school for sewing and cooking that was started has been successful and I look forward to meeting the graduating class when I visit in February.

            In addition, we were able to supply funds to build a wash closet (restrooms) for the parish school which accommodates 4 student stalls and 2 stalls for the teachers and a wash station to maintain proper hygiene.

            We were also able to once again provide for a Christmas Party for the children.

            One sad note, we had to cancel the college tuition program – it was above our means to keep up with, maybe someday with a little more growth we can bring this back.

I suppose we can consider year 2014, the year of Education!

We were also able to maintain our goal of a minimum of 95% of your donations going directly to support the people of Our Lady of the Rosary, all this in spite of additional rules changes in the banking system that increased our cost.  Instead of being able to send a check once a month to a bank in New York and onto Haiti for a fairly low cost, we can no longer send checks and must do wire transfers.  In order to do that we had to upgrade our checking account adding a fee we didn’t have over the past 4 years and the wire fees and Fonkoze Bank minimum fees which increased the cost of transferring money each month significantly.  We are working with our bank to at least waive their monthly fee.  I’m sure you wouldn’t think it’s very much but every dollar saved on admin fees is available to help those in need.

I’ve bent your ear long enough.  Keep up the good work, keep those donations coming and don’t forget to tell your friends about us.  And – lest I forget you can now follow us on facebook and twitter, so go to our home page, click on F and T and like our facebook page to receive updates and on twitter, include ABC for Haiti as someone you follow.

I pray the Good Lord showers abundant blessings upon you for the good you are doing for those in need.

Art